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This month the importance of choosing the right name for your characters is examined and there are 10 top tips for promoting a non-fiction book.

E-zee Writer
Top Tips For Writers

E-zee Writer Top Tips for Writers Issue 93
July 08

Hello and welcome to the July issue,

Firstly, we have an exciting project we want to get up and running in the near future. We want those of you who are already students, to put together your own writing magazine, which we will publish in a new student community area we are in the process of creating on our website.

We are looking for people who would be interested in designing the magazine, editing it and, of course, we need contributors. This will all be done on a voluntary basis by whoever chooses to take on the roles and is completely flexible. So, if you want to edit/contribute/design the magazine for 1 month, 3 months or a whole year it is up to you! We are planning on the magazine being quarterly to begin with.

The topics of the articles and all other content will be chosen by the editor and can be related to writing or about something else completely. They could be on how writing has changed your life, where to get articles published, how to research, your top tips for each other. You may also want to include puzzles and teasers, such as writing related crosswords and inspirational ideas. You can also send in your own work for publication, this can include poems, short stories, in fact anything you like.

It could also be useful for those of you who feel a little nervous about sending your work to publishers. You can try out the techniques and build you confidence using other students as a sounding board.

This is a fantastic opportunity for you to see publishing from the inside. You get to experience the trials and tribulations of being involved with a publication firsthand, which offers a unique perspective for those who choose to give it a go.

The main thing to remember is that this is a magazine for students by students; so the world is your oyster! 

Next, a resounding publishing success for one of our ex-students! Congratulations to Valerie Bettag who has published a great new children’s book, ‘ Diggory Russet Detective Extraordinaire ’ (ISBN: 9781906206604). The book has some rather unusual and quite brilliant illustrations. Plus, all profits from the sale of the book will be donated to the premature baby unit in Exeter. Well done Valerie and how very generous of you!

Inspiration comes in the form of Archana, a hardworking mother, wife and now writer from India, and Helen, a novelist in the making. They should provide you with the belief that you really can get your work published. If they have done it so can you!

Our expert advice this month comes from the hugely experienced Heather Cooke. She looks at the importance of naming characters and how to choose the best names for maximum impact. 

Finally, thank you to all those who entered our 2008 Poetry and Short Story Competition. The standard is very high and we are currently sifting through the enormous heap of entries with gusto. I envy the judges who will have lots of excellent material to peruse over the summer months. Results will be out mid-September, winners will be notified by the 15 th of the month with the results being published on the website shortly after. Keep your fingers crossed!

And don’t forget to read the end note for a sneak preview of what’s coming next month.




‘I have always loved writing but, other than the school and college journals, I never had any publishing success. Then, I joined the Comprehensive Creative Writing course one year back and my life has changed completely.

‘I never knew that I could make a mark in non-fiction writing. I joined only to improve my fiction writing skills. However, now there are hundreds of my non-fiction articles doing their rounds in the online world. You can check them out by typing my name into a search engine.

‘Two of my articles have appeared in highly esteemed newspapers – ‘ The Times of India and ‘ The Economic Times’ . Two of my short stories have been accepted elsewhere and they are due to be published soon.

‘Just two months back, I got a permanent freelance writing job as an article marketer. The salary that they pay me each month is nearly equal to the one-time fee I paid for the course.

‘In the last year I have earned a grand total of £1000. I did this in the midst of cooking, housekeeping and managing a naughty toddler son.

‘All these successes have made me dream of the day when my own book will hit the bookstores and become a best seller. I am sure the help of Writers Bureau will make my dream true someday……...’

Archana Sarat , India



‘I started my writing course in late summer 2006. I was a bit apprehensive about what to expect, but I thought if I don’t do it now – I never will. The ambition to write had always been there, but I’d never done anything about it, too busy at work, too many other things to do – the usual excuses.

‘The course has shown me the way to go about writing, but, ultimately it is me who has to put finger on keyboard and get on with it. I have found the study books very useful and helpful both with the actual writing and how to go about getting published.

‘Recently I had an article published in ‘ The Lady ’ and have other work with them for consideration. I received £80.00 for this article – all about pumpkins!

‘I have written two pieces for ‘ The Nibbler ’, the official magazine of the National Gerbil Society.

‘After entering a writing competition in July I received a Highly Commended certificate for a children’s short story and I recently won third prize in the Writelink  Christmas Chillers story competition.

‘The Daily Mail’ published a review I wrote for one of their Book Club choices, for which I won £100 in book tokens.

‘I’m enjoying the course and know I still have a lot to learn. I would like to have some more articles published and have some ideas in mind to work on in the near future.

‘A novel is a possibility, but some way in the future!’

Helen Lowry, Leeds

If you would like a prospectus for the courses studied by Archana or Helen email us here with your full name and postal address.

Or, to share your success stories with others, just send an email to with 'Success Story' in the subject line.


FREELANCE MARKET NEWS Freelance Market News Magazine
an essential guide for freelance writers

For up-to-date market information, Freelance Market News is invaluable.

Issued 11 times a year it's packed with information on markets in Britain and around the globe, plus you get all the latest news and views on the publishing world.

Every subscription comes with FREE membership of The Association of Freelance Writers. Your membership also entitles you to discounts on books and competitions, a free appraisal worth over £30 and a Membership Card which confirms your status as a Freelance Writer.

FREE sample copies are available to view at the website, along with more details about the magazine and how you can subscribe.

Please remember there is no issue of FMN in the month of July!


What’s in a name!

By Heather Cooke

When Juliet agonized over her lover’s name, it wasn’t because “Romeo” is a cliché. At the time, of course, it wasn’t – that came later! “What’s in a name? A rose by any other name would smell as sweet,” referred to his surname: Montague. Romeo’s surname marked him out as an enemy to Juliet’s own family. Names have a lot to answer for.

What is “in a name” then? When writing fiction, we need to take great care in naming our characters, because their names can help to establish them in the minds of our readers. Backgrounds, personalities, relationships with other characters and even their role in the story can all be suggested by their names.

Choosing Names
Names are given to children by their parents, in fiction as in real life, so ask yourself if your characters’ parents would (or even could!) have chosen those names.

History. Make sure your names fit the period. Don’t call your Tudor heroine Wendy, when the name wasn’t invented until JM Barrie used it in Peter Pan.

Foreign names. Shakespeare may have been able to get away with having an Italian family called Montague (British aristocratic name, French derivation!) but we shouldn’t do the same.

Class. Even today it’s still unlikely that a “working class” family in an inner city would call their offspring Tarquin.

The abbreviations we prefer are down to us, though, and the same applies to our characters. If your heroine Alison likes to call herself Ali, that may well say something about her. Similarly, a Nicholas who insists on the full name will almost certainly have different personality traits from the one who calls himself Nick… or Nik!

Other names that suggest a character’s personality and their role in the story include those that look like adjectives. Mr Knightley in Jane Austen’s Emma was a gallant gentleman. And remember the power of allusion, too – Hardy’s Bathsheba (Far From The Madding Crowd) bore the name of a biblical temptress, while Gabriel Oak was a dependable English hero… and guardian angel.

Where to Find Names
An excellent source book is Leslie Dunkling’s Guinness Book of Names. Now out of print, second-hand copies are available at Amazon:

The Oxford Dictionary of First Names and the Penguin Dictionary of First Names both give stories behind the names, providing fascinating social history and a good read. Ditto, the Oxford Dictionary of English Surnames.

To see what the most popular first names have been in more recent times in the UK, check out the website of official publication Social Trends. You’ll find a snapshot for the years 1904, 1934, 1964, 1994 and 1999 at:

(click Display All)

Look for similar sites in other countries, too.

Many other websites will provide inspiration, among them:

This is particularly useful as it covers African, Indian and Arabic names as well.

And you’ll be surprised what can come from a trawl through the phone book!

Names to Avoid

Unless we’re the Beckhams, we’re unlikely to call our own children Romeo, and are equally unlikely to name our romantic hero thus, unless for comic effect. Other names to avoid may not be so obvious.

Apart from ones that are contextually incorrect (wrong period, wrong language, as above!) avoid those that are too similar. Reading quickly, people could easily confuse Jeff and Jess, or even Clive and Olive.

Take care that characters’ surnames don’t cause unintentional hilarity when paired with the first name. If you’ve been calling your hero Ben, don’t suddenly reveal that his surname is Dover. If your characters are William Power and Richard O’Shea, readers may chuckle over the shorter forms, Will and Rick.

Is your heroine likely to marry the hero? If so, don’t let Joy fall for a chap called Rider, or match Tanya with a Mr Hyde. Unless, that is, you make the joke play a role in the story!

Using Names
The way we use characters’ names can sometimes be as important as the names themselves. In a first-person story, ensure that someone addresses the narrator by name, as early as possible. Among other things this usually shows the person’s gender, all too easily hidden by “I”! Readers will identify with the character and the situation far more readily if they know the person’s name and sex, early on.

In third-person fiction, don’t repeat a name too often. Ring the changes with pronouns and other ploys, such as “her companion”, “the newcomer” or “his interrogator" without overdoing it! And don’t start consecutive paragraphs with the person’s name – at the very least, it looks boring.

Will you use the main character’s first name or surname in the narrative? Either way, be consistent. Using the surname is often appropriate in action novels with macho male characters. Also be consistent in the way other characters address them, and why. In Sebastian Faulks’ new Bond novel, Devil May Care, the author follows Fleming’s original style and uses “Bond” in the narrative, but this is an interesting passage:

“Well, yes, James, it is.”
Bond didn’t like it when M called him “James” rather than “Bond” or “007”. The personal note always preceded some disappointing news.

The way other characters address the protagonist is important, so consider using names that can be shortened. This could indicate affection or contempt. The point in the story at which one character starts calling another by a shortened version can itself be significant. Does it reflect a change in their relationship?

As always, the exception justifies the rule. If it’s usually best to name characters so that they fit into their context, a bold writer may occasionally use an incongruous name for deliberate effect. On first coming across the Harry Potter books, your initial thought might be, “What a boring name!”

That, of course, was the whole point. Surrounded by Dumbledores and Voldemorts, plain old Harry is a reluctant hero, an apparently “ordinary” boy, an underdog, a victim of bullying. He is someone with whom other “ordinary” children, other underdogs, other victims of bullying can identify, and from whom they can draw inspiration. If his name had been more glamorous, much of that would have been lost.

What’s in a name? A heck of a lot!


Heather Cooke has had hundreds of short stories and serials published, both contemporary and historical, and three novels. She also contributes articles, puzzles and quizzes to markets ranging from Chat to the Church Times, so she enjoys teaching both fiction and non-fiction as a Writers Bureau tutor.  


10 top tips for promoting your non-fiction book

Whether your book has been accepted by a mainstream publisher or you are self-publishing, you can’t afford to sit back and wait for sales. So here are some tips on how to promote your book:


  1. Prepare a press release that you can send to local newspapers and radio stations, especially if the content of your book might appeal to local people or you have an appropriate peg on which to hang it. But remember – keep the press release short. It should be no longer than a single sheet of A4 paper and the most important facts should be at the top so that if the newspaper hasn’t space for all of it they can cut from the bottom upwards. If you send a photo with it, make sure the quality is good – or just state that photo/s are available.

  2. If your local paper prints book reviews, send a copy of the book to the literary editor for review.

  3. Contact your local radio station to see if they might like to interview you about your book. Or try local societies and organisations (writers’ groups, church groups etc) – ask if they would like you to come along and be guest speaker at one of their meetings.

  4. Make sure you have an attractive personal website where you can showcase your book. Spend a little extra money to purchase a domain name that people will recognise and spend a little extra time making your site search-friendly.

  5. Why not blog about your interests, your book etc? But make sure that you keep your postings up-to-date or people will lose interest. Visit for information on how to proceed.

  6. Join chat rooms that are relevant to the subject of your book. You can then spread the word as you chat. And make sure that every email you send out has a mention of your book, where it can be obtained and how much it costs in the signature block.

  7. Send out articles to magazines on topics that are related to the subject of your book. You’ve written a book, so you are classed as an expert! Then make sure you give your book a plug at the end of each article. It’s also a good way of using the same material to make more money.

  8. Go into local bookshops (preferably at a quiet time) and ask to speak to the manager. Many of the chains can purchase books with a local interest, at the manager’s discretion. But be prepared to discount the selling price quite heavily and you may also have to offer ‘sale or return’ terms.

  9. Whatever your age, consider joining one (or more) of the social networking sites. The more ‘friends’ you have – the more you can promote your book by word of mouth. Also, ask your real (as opposed to virtual) friends to put their thinking caps on and see if they can come up with any good ideas for promoting your book.

  10. Finally, don’t be a shrinking violet. If you want to publicise your book you’ve got to be pushy and explore every avenue you can think of.


‘A Decidedly Different Book Publishing Company With an Unconventional Approach to Conventional Publishing’. This is a nifty little website that offers ‘a ground-breaking online resource for aspiring authors, which lets you take charge of your own destiny. This avant-garde book publishing company applies an interactive approach to the process - in every sense of the word - by using the Internet as a platform to connect truly brilliant writers to print publications’ Essentially, you can create your project on the site, get your friends and peers to review the work. Users then vote on which books they like and if yours is popular you are offered a contract by WEbook. So, get writing, get it on there and then get everyone you know to vote for you!  
‘Sonar is a manuscript submission tracking program, and I wrote it because I was going nuts keeping track of short story submissions’. I am sure there are lots of you out there who feel like you are going nuts at times trying to track all the work you’ve sent out. And if you don’t send enough, maybe this little tool will act as an incentive to get you moving!

And from the same clever guy:
Rather than trying to explain what this does, I will list the features as described on the designers website. Here goes, you’ll be impressed!

‘Organise your novel using a 'project'.
Add chapters to the project.
Add scenes, characters, items and locations.
Display the word count for every file in the project, along with a total.
Saves a log file every day, showing words per file and the total. (Tracks your progress)
Saves automatic backups at user-specified intervals.
Allows multiple scenes within chapters
Viewpoint character, goal, conflict and outcome fields for each scene.
Multiple characters per scene.
Storyboard view, a visual layout of your work.
Re-order scenes within chapters.
Drag and drop of chapters, scenes, characters, items and locations.
Automatic chapter renumbering.’

The two sites by ‘spacejock’ are free to download, as are all his other tools, and they get great reviews too!

If you know and use any sites that you think other writers would find particularly useful, drop me a line and share you knowledge.

END NOTE and a little inspiration


Could you write an article about ...

1st December 1988 

Britain is once again linked to mainland Europe as the two halves of the tunnel meet under the English Channel.

2nd December 1942 

Enrico Fermi heads the team of physicists carrying out the first successful nuclear chain reaction at the University of Chicago.

3rd December 1857 

The Polish writer Josef Teodor Konrad Korzeniowski, otherwise known as Joseph Conrad, most famous for Heart of Darkness is born.

4th December 1971  

The first ever Sunday newspaper was printed -The Observer.

6th December 1896

Ira Gershwin is born on this day in New York City best known for his part in many Broadway classics such as Funny Face and I got Rhythm.

9th December 1608

The author most famous for Paradise Lost and Paradise Regained, John Milton, was born in London on this day.

11th December 1901

Guglielmo Marconi transmitted the first transatlantic radio waves from England to Newfoundland.

16th December 1775

Jane Austin, writer of such classics as Pride and Prejudice and Sense and Sensibility was born.

21st December 1937 

The leg of a servant was amputated (!) at University College Hospital in London by Robert Liston who utilised anaesthesia for the first time.

25th December 1066

Westminster Abbey, London, saw the crowning of William the Conqueror as the King of England.

26th December 1860

Hallam FC and Sheffield FC played the world’s first ever inter-club football match.

28th December 1612

Neptune was observed for the fist time by Italian astronomer Galileo Galilei.

29th December 1919

The first female bar student was accepted at Lincoln’s Inn, London.

That’s it for this month.

I hope you found something of use to you in this issue. If so pass the word on to all your writer friends - and even those who don’t. You never know, you might inspire them to take it up.

Next month, Lorraine Mace shows how looking after the pitch, prose, pictures and profit can lead to a quantity of work and success.

Plus, there will be more inspiration from successful students and useful sites to play with.

Finally, remember to think about whether you would like to become part of the online magazine and e-mail me if you have any questions about it.


As usual, if you've any suggestions or would like to comment on content then please contact me at:

And don't forget – if you've enjoyed this issue of E-zee Writer and found it useful, tell your friends about it so that they can subscribe too!


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Annemarie Munro Writers Bureau's Student of the Year 2022

"I have seen my writing journey as an adventure: What can I write? What am I best at? What new aspects of writing can I discover and contribute towards? I have welcomed the wide range of modules covering different types of writing, challenging me to try new aspects in style and content, pushing me gently outside my comfort zone with encouragement.

"I signed up for the course in December 2020 as a Christmas present to myself and I started the first module in January 2021. I have had eight pieces published: three paid earning £1080 and a star letter where I won a £250 hotel voucher."

Annemarie Munro - Writers Bureau Student of the Year 2022

Read Annemarie's full story


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